How Teens Are Coping With Social Distancing

Put a finger down if you have made whipped coffee, learned a new TikTok dance, attempted to make bread from scratch (two fingers if you made banana bread), created a mess tie-dying your clothes, dragged your mirror outside for a photoshoot, or gave in to an Instagram challenge… You either understood everything listed, or you’ve been living under a rock. Actually, in some ways, we all have been living under a rock, stuck at home with the only form of entertainment being social media. 

Across platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, various trends have sprung up and taken over the screens of countless teenagers. One of these trends, made especially popular by TikTok is “whipped,” or Dalgona coffee. The recipe is quite simple, mixing instant coffee, sugar, and hot water together and pouring it over milk. The replicability and physical appeal of the drink is what made it spread across the Internet so fast. Not only that, but it’s something easy that anyone can make at home to cure their boredom, even if it’s just for a few minutes. 

While we’re still in the kitchen, some people have taken to making bread, specifically banana bread. Why people have chosen banana bread out of other recipes might be attributed to the convenience of the ingredients. Bananas are special in the fact that they can be repurposed when they are overripe, unlike other foods. Fun fact, the recipe for banana bread was first published by Pillsbury in 1933, during the Great Depression, another time of historical significance. Banana bread was a way to avoid wasting food and making the most of the week’s groceries. 

As for the rest of the TikTok trends, they come and go so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all of them and not miss one. Of course there are the app’s signature dances, new ones popping up more frequently as people find themselves with the free time to create them. It would be no use to list all the trending audios as they seem to be fading in and out of popularity even quicker than before. However, recently, a lot of the videos on the For You page (similar to a “discover” page), fall under the photoshoot category. 

Although they have always been popular on the app, people have gotten even more creative with photoshoots. It’s hard to take pictures of yourself when your friends aren’t there to press the button, and your kitchen might not be the most appealing backdrop, unless you live in a mansion. Luckily, the people of the internet have found their way around the inconveniences of social distancing in a number of ways. 

One trend that has had its fair share of participants involves taking a mirror outside and propping it up to take photos. It doesn’t sound that promising, but you’d be surprised at some of the results. All over TikTok and Instagram, people have posted their own versions of the trend, which is just as easy to accomplish as it sounds. You don’t need anyone to take photos of you, and most people already have a mirror lying around somewhere. Everyday people are adding to the long list of photoshoot ideas to try at home: using paper towel rolls for a “spotlight” effect, cutting water bottles to alter light, and so many more. 

If we weren’t all required to be inside, tie-dye would definitely be a hit on the streets. Influencers and teens alike are taking it upon themselves to make their own tie-dye clothes to wear at home. Not just tie-dye though, people are channeling their crafty side by bleaching denim and taking up embroidery as well! So, decades from now when people ask what the fashion was like in quarantine*, we could confidently respond with half-bleached jeans and tie-dye sweats.

It’s safe to say that Instagram isn’t the same as it was pre-pandemic. Before, timelines were full of pictures of people having fun outside and stories showcasing everyday life. Now, people have tried to compensate for the lack of activity by posting “bingos” or various challenges to their stories. You might have seen the drawing challenges, the positivity chains, or the infamous push-up challenge. Or, if you were on the app at the right time, you were bombarded with dozens of #UntilTomorrow posts. None of these really have any permanence or cultural impact, but they’re something fun to do or look at (until they become annoying). 

Now, it is important to mention that with all the time to participate in these trends, comes a great deal of privilege. While some people are relieved to have this time off from the daily pressures of life, the lives of essential workers, parents, people who lost their jobs, among others, have only gotten harder. Even so, it is interesting to see how society as a whole is coping in these unprecedented times, and better yet, to have it all documented on the Internet so kids in future generations have something to look back on. 

Julie Huynh

Julie Huynh is a Malden High sophomore and an excited returning reporter to the Blue and Gold staff. Outside of the classroom, Huynh is also an active participant in the school’s Feminism and Key Club. She enjoys watching crime shows such as Criminal Minds and NCIS, as well as watching sitcoms like Michael Schur’s Parks and Rec and The Good Place. Huynh takes pleasure in covering Malden High events because it allows her to get to know a wide range of people around the school as well as keeping up with the many events MHS offers. Originally joining the class with an interest in developing her graphic art and design skills, she has learned to enjoy the writing portion of the class and is happy to get back at it this year.

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